Information is a key resource and in order to improve our delivery of services to the citizens of Surrey Heath, it is essential that the information we hold is properly managed, kept secure and up to date. Information Governance is a phrase which is being used more and more in the 21st century to describe the set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls being implemented to manage information. It is a framework to bring together all the standards, legal requirement and best practise to manage the information lifecycle. The phrases Information Management and Information Governance are often seen as interchangeable now, though Information Governance is ultimately the overarching description for Information Management.
Information Governance is the process of making the right information available to the right people at the right time until it reaches the end of its life or it has to be kept permanently. Surrey Heath Borough Council also takes seriously the management of personal data as well as other data. We have therefore produced an Information Charter which sets out the standards for both personal data and other information Surrey Heath Borough Council holds in in order to carry out our duties.
The Council has vast amounts of information about its staff, suppliers and all of the many individuals who live, work or have an interest in Surrey Heath.
There have been a number of government initiatives over recent years concerning information and the government is particularly keen on transparency and sharing information. Having an information sharing culture should hopefully reduce the 'reinvention of the wheel' as colleagues will be able to learn from each other. There has also been an explosion in the creation of information as it is much easier to do, but as well as creating it we need to manage its whole lifecycle.
The Information Governance Strategy and Policy was approved by the Executive in October 2011. The framework for Information Governance work within Surrey Heath Borough Council will be the Information Governance wheel.
The elements are:
- Records Management
- Information Rights
- Information Security
- Email Management
At the heart of the Information Governance wheel is training. This is so that we can all understand how managing information affects our working lives and be fully aware of our responsibilities. A key responsibility concerns managing personal protected information. There have been many cases in the public sector of data breaches where staff have lost computers, memory sticks, emailed and faxed personal information to the wrong people. Policies and procedures can be put in place but training helps staff to understand what they are doing and how to implement them.
As well as the elements within the Information Governance wheel, there are other subjects which fall under the Information Governance framework. It is very much a corporate wide responsibility and different sections input work into it for example the Social Media Policy, Corporate Style Guide and transparency agenda.